Troubled Times

Behind the Mike

Flux.

To a physicist, it's an important electromagnetic quantity. To a mathematician, it's the flow out of a surface. For the sport of baseball, it's a disaster in the making.

The month-old strike has successfully killed what two World Wars, the Vietnam War, and the Great Depression couldn't kill: the World Series.

In the interim, what's been happening? What few scraps can we salvage from the scrap heap left by the bitter war between owners and players?

Most of baseball's fans were forced, on this, what would have been the final stretch of a phenomenal pennant race, watching Ken Burns's epic "Baseball." Sorry, but as much as I enjoyed the documentary, I would much rather have seen the Indians and White Sox duke it out for first.

Instead of watching the Expos in the postseason for the first time in years, fans have been watching as general managers and managers were fired and then shuffled among teams, like a deck of cards, looking for jobs.

The big news from the MLB circuit today? The Florida State League's Osceola Astros were renamed the Kissimmee Cobras. Ooooh, ahhhh.

But I'm thankful for the lull in the action, to a certain degree. I'm dreading what comes next.

No doubt, baseball will look very different when it returns. Word is that Congress is very seriously considering the repeal of the antitrust law (with the incredible foresight its members so often exhibit).

Marvin Miller, former players' union head, has said all players could be ruled free agents.

One can only imagine the auction of talent that would create. Ugly with a capital UGLY.

Small-market franchises, if they lose the salary cap, may very well give up and move or go out of business, because they really can't afford to lose any more money.

Things have time to settle now that the postseason is dead. Here's hoping Fehr and Ravitch get up the courage to meet with each other once in a while to pretend things are really happening on the negotiation front.

Speaking of the salary cap, how about the NFL, the league that contrived all this cap nonsense?

You'd think that after fighting for the cap tooth and nail, the owners would be thrilled to abide by it.

Yet rumors remain rampant that Deion Sanders signed with the San Francisco 49ers at an artificially-reduced salary to keep the club under the salary cap, with Nike indirectly subsidizing the salary by increasing his Nike contract.

In the NBA, it's the same story. After imposing their own salary cap, the owners signed a series of dubious incentive-laden contracts with players, crude ploys to avoid the cap.

That left the league suing the owners, claiming the contracts were violations of the cap.

What's the deal? Either fish or cut bait, guys. It's enough that we should have to put up with lost seasons because you want a salary cap. But to hypocritically circumvent it, well, that's just....

Never mind. I want to see the sports back in their position as joyful respites from the problems of the world.

Flux. All these leagues (I didn't even have room to knock the NHL) are taking advantage of their fans, stupidly, childishly, selfishly, in the process leaving themselves in a state of flux from which they may never fully recover.

Here's hoping that the owners don't lose sight of the fact that whatever labor victories they may enjoy could prove to be completely pyrrhic in nature.